[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s we are all aware, Bayern Munich were the last side to successfully defeat Juventus at home, en route to winning the Champions League after a historic all-German final in London. Since then, many sides have come and tried, yet all have come up short as time and time again they were thwarted by Juventus Stadium, which proved essentially to be a vital “twelfth man”, salvaging a draw from a possible loss, or grinding out a win from a frustrating stalemate.
At least, until Thursday’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg clash, which saw Massimiliano Allegri’s men welcoming Vincenzo Montella’s troops to Turin.
Prior to this match, Juventus and Fiorentina had faced off a dozen times in this tournament, with the Viola having won five out of those fixtures. However, to find the last time they had successfully defeated the Bianconeri at home, one would have to go back to a time that none of the players, coaches, nor overwhelming majority of fans had been even born yet – May 1936.
Fiorentina has, in recent times, been a tricky customer for Juventus. It was back in October 2013 that Giuseppe Rossi’s brilliant 14 minute second-half hat-trick handed them their first loss of the 2013/2014 campaign after Antonio Conte’s side thought they had the win in the bag after going 2-0 up in the first 45. And whilst it did not prevent la Vecchia Signora from romping to their third straight Scudetto with a record-setting 102 points, it nonetheless was a day to remember for Viola fans as it ended their 15-year wait for a home win against the Turin giants.
Unfortunately for Rossi, injuries continue to take their toll and the American-born Italian international again faces another uphill battle to regain full fitness. However, Montella’s side have enjoyed a recent uptick in form since the start of the new year. Following their shock loss to bottom-placed Parma, the Viola have strung together an eight-match unbeaten run in the league – thirteen across all competitions – and as such are in a strong position to be featuring in Europe next season, with a Champions League berth not out of reach.
Interestingly, this string of good results has coincided with the recent signing of Chelsea’s Mohamed Salah on loan this past January, with fellow attacker André Schürrle also making way as, the Blues sought to bring in Juan Cuadrado. Since arriving in Turin, 22-year-old Salah, who struggled for game time whilst at Stamford Bridge, has become a man re-born, as evidenced by his performance – and more importantly, his increasing goal tally.
On February 26th, it was his second half strike which would effectively kill off Tottenham in their Europa League two-legged clash. A few days later on March 1st, he came off the bench to seal a crucial win over Inter on the road. And finally he capped off a brilliant week with a brace, to not only help his side plant one foot in the final, but also to do what countless sides had tried and failed – to conquer Juventus Stadium. We can all certainly be sure of whose name will be on the lips of every Fiorentina fan for the next few days – and longer perhaps – should he repeat this same great performance during their two-legged tie against Roma in their rapidly approaching Europa League round of 16 clash.
Recently voted as the best signing of the January transfer market by Gazzetta dello Sport, his current squad do have the option to buy the player at the end of this season, and one would be daft to bet against them doing just that.
Simply put, should Mohamed Salah continue in this vein of form, it will certainly be a case of Chelsea’s loss has become Fiorentina’s gain.
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